Politico’s word blacklist is an insight into language control
How news outlets control messaging
In January 2022, news outlet Politico issued a style guide for its writers that bans the use of language that could be deemed “offensive.” The style guide contains guidelines on language related to racism, transgender issues, and immigration.
The guide bans the use of gendered words like “man-made,” “mankind,” and “manhunt.”
The guide also bans saying that a transgender person “identifies as” a specific gender. It further bans referencing a transgender person as a “biological man/male” or “biological woman/female.” Instead, reporters should use “biological sex” or “biological gender.”
“Generally, avoid references to a transgender person being born a boy or girl, and opt for phrasing such as ‘identified at birth as boy/girl’,” the guide stated. “A person’s biology does not take precedence over their gender identity, and such oversimplifications can invalidate the person’s current, authentic gender.”
On the topic of racism, the guide says, “Unlike Black, white should not be capitalized in any instances.”
Reporters are also not allowed to use “pro-life” or “pro-choice” outside of quotes. Instead, they should use “anti-abortion,” “abortion rights supporter,” and “abortion rights.”
They are also instructed to use gender-neutral language like “patients who seek abortion” or “people who seek abortions,” instead of “women who seek abortions” because there may be people who do not identify as female who can get pregnant.
Additionally, “late-term abortion” should be replaced by “abortion later in pregnancy.”
On the issue of illegal immigration, reporters are prohibited from using “illegal alien,” “anchor baby”, “illegal immigrant,” or other derogatory words in reference to illegal immigration.
Also, the situation at the southern border of the U.S.A. should not be called a “crisis” because “while the sharp increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors is a problem for border officials, a political challenge for the Biden administration and a dire situation for many migrants who make the journey, it does not fit the dictionary definition of a crisis.”
May 12, 2023